By Vanesa Brashier, firstname.lastname@example.org
Residents in Featherstone Subdivision, located on the northeast outskirts of the City of Liberty, are used to hearing coyotes at night, but one that was spotted around mid-day Sunday walking near homes has some residents concerned about the safety of their small children and pets.
Liberty resident Mark Campbell said he was letting his dogs out for a bathroom break around 11 a.m. when he saw an animal walking toward his neighbor’s home. At first, he thought it might be a deer. After watching it for a few moments, he realized it was a coyote that appeared to be stalking pets near his neighbor’s home.
“I was quite surprised to see the coyote out in the daytime. I thought he might be injured or rabid, but then I realized he wasn’t rabid because of how he was moving,” said Campbell. “The coyote was in no way threatened to be in a residential area and he looked like he had a purpose for being there.”
Concerned about his neighbor’s pets, which he knew were sometimes left outside during the day, Campbell made the judgment call to go after the coyote. He ran inside his home, grabbed a .22 rifle and started walking nonchalantly to where he had last seen the animal. Campbell knew his neighbors – Jimmy and Sandra Sterling – would be okay with him shooting the coyote as it posed a threat to their pets.
“Jimmy had some wild hogs come up on his property in the past and he green-lighted me to shoot anything that was a threat,” Campbell said.
When the coyote spotted Campbell, it started running away. Campbell, a hunting enthusiast, steadied the rifle on the Sterlings’ fence and fired, dropping the coyote from a distance of 160 yards, which he confirmed with a laser range finder.
Campbell understands the need to coexist with wildlife and says he is accustomed to seeing deer and other animals in the fields behind the subdivision, but claims this coyote was different as it appeared to have no fear of humans.
“My other neighbor, Beth Cook, had a coyote come up to the side door of her house,” Campbell said. “They aren’t just peacefully doing their thing among woodland animals. It’s a concern and we are going to be keeping our eye out for more. We will be looking for his buddies and will be ready for them.”
Campbell said the coyote he killed was heavy and muscular, and appeared to be well fed.
“He had some size to him. He wasn’t poor or in bad condition. It worries me that one of my children, especially my youngest who is in kindergarten, might be overpowered by a coyote while they are playing in the yard,” he said.
The Sterlings say they are grateful that their neighbor took action to protect their pets and have nicknamed him the “Liberty Sniper” because of his marksmanship.
“Our subdivision is small, but we have elderly people and children who live here,” said Sandra. “It’s scary.”
The Sterlings say they have taken steps to keep the feral pigs away by installing a hog-proof fence around the portion of their eight-acre property that surrounds their backyard. The fence is no deterrent, however, to coyotes as they are capable of easily leaping seven feet.
Texas Parks and Wildlife says that coyotes are opportunistic omnivores that will feed on any available food, including rabbits, rodents, carrion and pets. Though they are naturally wary of humans, they can become accustomed to residential areas if there is a food source available.
To avoid the potential for coyotes on your property, wildlife experts warn that pet food should not be left out for animals overnight. Outside garbage cans and pet food supplies should be locked. Small pets should be kept indoors and let outside only when they are supervised.
If you know they have coyotes why would you leave your pets outside unattended, that’s stupid. You hunted down and killed a coyote that ran from you making it no longer a threat. You are a coward.